WITH an approach shot that almost rates as an Easter miracle, an emotional Bubba Watson snatched a sudden death playoff against Louis Oosthuizen to claim his first golfing major today.
The American looked gone for all money when he put his drive deep right into the trees on their second playoff hole, the 10th, after both had parred the 18th at the Augusta National Golf Club.
The previously implacable Oosthuizen took a three wood off the tee and although also bungling it right, luckily ended up with a straight shot to the flag from a reasonable lie in the rough.
The tractor salesmen in his native South African were rubbing their hands with glee, believing Louis would be coming home a happy man with a full wallet.
But if you have never taken a golf lesson in your life, you don’t know what you are not supposed to be able to do.
The course commentators were suggesting that maybe Watson could pull off one if his “special” shots and get it somewhere close to Oosthuizen at the front of the green.
Instead, the man who is all hands and natural talent played a huge snap hook off the pine needles to take it within 12 foot of the flag.
The American crowd went bananas. Oosthuizen’s chip up hill was long and he two putted for a bogey.
After blowing a similar length birdie putt on their first playoff hole, Watson now had two putts to accomplish what every golfing junior around the world dreams of doing, winning the US Masters.
He did that, immediately collapsing visibly shaking and sobbing into the arms of his caddie for a long embrace.
“I’m pretty good at hooking,” the idiosyncratic 33 year old said later. “I hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and somehow I’m here in a green jacket talking to you.”
Oosthuizen (69), the 2010 British Open champion, looked like he had his second major in the bag for most of the day before finishing in regulation on 10 under with Watson (68).
On the long par 5 second hole the South African bagged just the fourth albatross in Masters history when he holed his 230 metre second shot.
After that he seemed unflappable and there were maybe just a couple of slightly errant shots he might have wanted to have over again.
If anything, Watson seemed to be just there tagging along and the man who really appeared a threat was three-time winner Phil Mickelson (72).
Even after Michelson had a disastrous triple bogey on the par-three fourth hole (his second triple of the week) he still doggedly fought back.
Mickelson missed a birdie putt on the last to finish on 8-under, tied with fellow overnight leader Peter Hanson (73), Matt Kuchar (69), who briefly took the joint lead when he eagled the 15th, and perennial Major bridesmaid Lee Westwood (68).
Scott has ace
Adam Scott finally clicked into gear – maybe he should have played another warm-up tournament beforehand – with a hole in one on the 16th and a chip in for birdie on the 17th featuring in his 6-under 66.
Scott had the second lowest score of the final round, beaten by Bo Van Pelt who also had an ace on the same hole.
The Queenslander finished tied for 8th with Justin Rose and a resurgent Padraig Harrington.
Geoff Ogilvy (71) was the next best placed Aussie at T19 while if you had asked Aaron Baddeley (74) at the beginning of the week if he would accept finishing equal with tournament favourites Tiger Woods (74) and Rory McIlroy (76) he probably would have jumped at the offer.
But none of them would be happy with their 5-over finish tied for 40th along with Henrik Stenson (81).
So, just in case you missed it, that’s another year without an Aussie winning the US Masters. There’s just another (scheduled) (roughly calculated) 88 chances till the end of the century.2012 US Masters Final Result